Master of Arts in Design

Graduate Advisors: Chu, Chen, Gomes, Linder, Linn, Singer, Trogu

The Master of Arts in Design curriculum provides students with the opportunity to:

  • Develop a specialized advanced study area in design and design technology, design, and industrial studies.
  • Prepare for doctoral study in other institutions which emphasize research and professional development in relation to the various aspects of technology.

This program is designed for students who want to:

  • Pursue professional development related to teaching, training, or administration in program areas related to industrial and technology education.
  • Study visual communication design/graphic communications and/or product design development from both an interdisciplinary as well as cross-disciplinary perspective.
  • Develop further expertise in a specific area of design studies through an individual, interdisciplinary-based program of study that focuses on specific goals.

Students pursuing this program come from a variety of occupational areas including: education, service occupations, manufacturing, product design, visual communication design, management, electronics, construction, power and energy, and small business entrepreneurship. Employment opportunities include preparation for career advancement/enhancement through advanced study in design and related disciplines, acquisition of additional technical skills, and continued research and development activity.

Admission to Program

The application process to the graduate program is a dual process. One application for the University and a second application for the School of Design. The School of Design graduate application requires a statement of purpose, a résumé, three letters of recommendation, and a portfolio, evidence of creative, technical, or written work. The program admits in the fall only. Deadline for admission materials is May 1st. Additionally, the University requires a bachelor's degree or a recognized equivalent from a regionally accredited institution and a satisfactory scholastic average; a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0.

Students entering this program normally present an undergraduate major in design, engineering, fine arts, industrial arts, or industrial technology subject major. Priority will be given to applicants who have at least one year between completion of undergraduate degree and professional work experience. The school does accept students with other undergraduate majors in cases where students desire to make career changes or do advanced study in design or technology related subject matter for enhancing career development and professional growth. For non-majors, a minimum of 12 additional conditional status units are required by advisement encompassing such areas as design, product design, visual communications design, graphic design, and basic tools, materials, processes knowledge and skills. Conditional status students are required to have a portfolio review with the school graduate committee upon completion of their 12 unit upper division undergraduate DES courses. The review will commence prior to transitioning to classified status. Students may be required to enroll in additional upper division undergraduate DES classes prior to transitioning to classified status. Classified status is required for enrollment in the following classes:

DES 800Seminar in Design Topics3
DES 805Seminar in Design Methodology3
DES 852Directed Experience in Design and Industry3
DES 894Creative Work Project3
DES 898Master's Thesis3

Advancement to Candidacy

A student is advanced to candidacy for a degree when the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) is accepted and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. All conditions placed on conditionally classified status must be satisfied before a student develops an ATC. For conditionally classified students (42 units), there is a conditional status review before a student is eligible to enroll in 800 level coursework. The Advancement to Candidacy and culminating experience Creative Work Project (CWP) should be filed in the semester immediately preceding registration for the final six units of graduate work. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor his/her progress and to work with appropriate school advisors filling out university forms as necessary and meeting published deadlines.

Students enrolled in the culminating experience CWP, must complete their culminating experience within two (consecutive) semesters. Students who fail to complete the CWP within two semesters are required to pay a re-enrollment fee for each additional semester until the CWP has been completed. NOTE: Creative Work Oral Defense Presentation (a requirement for degree) is conducted spring semester only.

Students are required to complete their Creative Work Project within five years.

Students who do not complete the culminating experience requirement (DES 894 or DES 898) in the semester they are enrolled or immediate subsequent semester, are required to maintain continuous enrollment through the College of Extended Learning (CEL) until the degree is earned. Students in the CEL course will have access to library and discipline-specific laboratories. The five-year “time to degree” is in effect. Students in the culminating experience continuous enrollment program should maintain frequent contact each semester with their advisor and meet all timelines outlined in the culminating experience proposal document (see policy on Graduate Studies website grad.sfsu.edu).

Students who have left the University for more than one semester while completing coursework are not guaranteed readmission to their program.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

As stated in the graduate studies section of the University Bulletin, each graduate student must demonstrate the ability to write American English correctly and effectively.

Level One

It is recommended but not required that applicants submit a GRE Analytical Writing Exam with a score of 4 or higher. Applicants who need additional work writing American English as determined by faculty/advisors will be referred to appropriate courses and/or resources on campus.

Level Two

Students will meet this requirement by the successful completion of the written phase of the culminating experience work that is part of either the Creative Work Project (DES 894) or Master's Thesis (DES 898).

Note: It is school policy that a student must have a comprehensive written proposal approved by the school within one semester prior to enrolling in either DES 894 or DES 898.

Upper division courses may be selected with prior approval of the graduate advisor.

Design (M.A.) — Minimum 30 Units

Program Requirements

DES 700Seminar in Design Research3
DES 755Seminar in Design Management3
DES 800Seminar in Design Topics3
Select 6 units from the following graduate courses with approval of graduate advisor:6
Seminar in Design Methodology
Directed Experience in Design and Industry
DES 894Creative Work Project3
or DES 898 Master's Thesis
Select supporting upper division/graduate courses as approved by the graduate advisor12